Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota recently opened its new 6,000-square-foot healing garden at its St. Paul campus. Designed by Aesthetics Inc. (San Diego), the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) Storyland Garden provides a space of respite, activity, and socialization for patients, families, and visitors.

Children’s – St. Paul relinquished its previous healing garden for hospital expansion projects in 2008. Construction of the new healing garden began in spring 2012 and was completed later that fall. Because the garden is on a rooftop above the hospital’s operating rooms, its weight first had to be cleared by a structural engineer before construction could begin, to ensure it could accommodate the garden’s 1,880 tiles (which weigh a total of 80 tons, plus 15,000 pounds of steel handrails). Located not far from the neighboring hospital’s helipad, wind disruption was an initial concern for the garden, but after thorough testing, it was determined not to be an issue.

One of the biggest challenges was designing a garden that can sustain the Minnesota climate. The garden is closed during the harsh winters; the furniture and planters are made out of materials durable enough to endure the elements of Minnesota.

With views of the St. Paul skyline in the background, the green spaces of the CHA Storyland Garden have been divided into distinct areas. Children can play and get exercise while winding around the garden on the tricycle/wagon path or by climbing on the whimsical play sculptures, designed by Twin Cities-based Cre8play. The new setting provides opportunity for outdoor activities, including physical and art therapy projects, as well as horticulture therapy.

The garden also features quiet sitting areas for parents and staff, including a rose bench and fountain in the center of the garden and a five-circuit labyrinth. Arbors create quiet places for intimate conversation and will provide shade for plants and sculptures. Lush plants throughout the garden provide green spaces.